The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission has said it will investigate an incident that took place at Grandview Golf Club in York County last month during which the police were called to the course.
The commission will hold a hearing in York County at a date and time that has yet to be determined, the commission said in a press release. The commission did not confirm if the hearing will be closed to the public.
On April 21, it was reported that management at Grandview called the police on Sandra Thompson, 50, Myneca Ojo, 56; Karen Crosby, 58; and sisters Sandra Harrison, 59, and Carolyn Dow, 56, asking them to leave. The women were told prior by management that they were playing golf too slowly.
Thompson, an attorney and president of the York chapter of the NAACP, said in an interview with CPBJ this week that she and fellow golfers were keeping pace and that this incident was more of a case of racial discrimination as she and the other four golfers were the only African-Americans on the course at the time.
“I said [to them]: ‘We are the only African-American women golfers on this course and you are talking to us, and blaming us, for something that’s not our fault,’” Thompson recalled. “I said: ‘Do you understand that this is a Starbucks-type of situation?’”
Earlier in April, two African-American men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia when they stayed in the restaurant without ordering anything and were accused of trespassing. The men said they were waiting for a third person and more recently settled with Starbucks for an undisclosed amount and a promise to create a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs. Starbucks also pledged to close more than 8,000 U.S. stores for several hours on May 29 to conduct racial-bias training for its employees.
Thompson lauded the efforts of the men and Starbucks to use a negative incident as a teachable moment to create change.
Initially, management at Grandview did not ask Thompson and her fellow golfers to leave, but offered to refund the women’s membership money, to which Thompson replied that they paid and just wanted to play, she said.
Calls to Grandview were not immediately returned.
Grandview did, however, post on Facebook on April 22 saying: “We are disappointed that this situation occurred and regret that our members were made to feel uncomfortable in any way. We have reached out to the members who shared their concerns to meet in-person, to fully understand what happened so that we can ensure it never happens again.”
But Thompson thinks that Grandview’s response has been insufficient.
“They do not have any remorse. There’s not any valid apology that’s been issued. Unfortunately, because of what we went through, the continued behavior is not surprising,” she said. “It’s a surprising business decision, but if your business does not care about our type of business, than it’s not surprising.”
The Grandview incident has gained national attention as well as calls for an investigation from Gov. Tom Wolf, and state Sen. Vincent Hughes, a Democrat from Montgomery County. Thompson said that she and members of her fellow golfers did not file a formal complaint.
“There needs to be restitution and rehabilitation. As far as what that looks like, I’m not sure yet,” Thompson said.